Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Duty-Free Shopping, Perhaps

I want to point out to the wonderful and kind folks over at the California Franchise Tax Board and the amazingly benevolent and totally cool (and not at all “universally disliked”) people at the IRS that the following tale could be completely hypothetical in nature.

Let’s just say, for the sake of telling a fun story, that my family recently traveled via our Chevrolet Suburban up to Oregon, where we have other family. We potentially traveled there to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It was, hypothetically, a great trip!

If Son Number Two had happened to catch wind of a smokin’ deal that Verizon was having where he could somehow trade his current iPhone in as long as the screen wasn’t cracked and magically get the latest iPhone 13 for free, he would have been really excited about that.

The one catch to getting a “free” iPhone here in California with a possible Verizon program would be that you would still have to pay the sales tax on the $900 “value” (using that term ironically, Apple) of the phone. That could, in theory, run you as much as $92 in tax in some parts of the Golden State.

If Number Two happened to hear about this program the night before we left for the alleged trip, he would have been pestering me to take him to a Verizon store the minute we had a free minute. I would have buckled under his teenage endurance for pestering and taken him to a possible Verizon location close to our accommodations on Sunday.

We then might have been informed about the true nature of this hypothetically amazing deal, whereas every one of the family’s lines potentially had an $800 or $900 credit for a brand-new phone, due to our possible customer loyalty.

If that had been the case, we surely would have all arrived at that same Verizon store on Monday, fifteen or so minutes before they opened, ready to upgrade all of our phones for free. And during the ostensibly fictional transaction, we may have discovered that my wife’s phone was ineligible due to a previously unnoticed small crack in the corner of the screen.

Getting some fictional advice from a helpful Verizon employee we’ll call Mike, we would then have tracked down a brand-new older model phone, still in the box, being sold, potentially, four miles away on Facebook Marketplace, and jumped in the car to race over and buy it with cash for far less than the sales tax would have been had this alleged transaction been taking place one state to the south.

And after spending, potentially, three hours of our Monday morning at the Verizon store and/or on Janet’s porch paying cash for a phone her daughter ended up never using, we might have walked out with five top-of-the-line, brand-spankin’-new cell phones for a hypothetical grand total cost of $175 in data transfer fees and cash for Janet’s daughter’s phone she didn’t want.

I would have been very pleased, ostensibly, because what we would have avoided, in theory, was upward of $450 in California sales taxes by having this entire theoretical situation occur on the fertile soil of our friendly neighbors to the north.

And if I had purchased a new wallet-style phone case for my wife on Amazon Prime and had it shipped to our Oregon accommodations, I would have, in theory, also avoided paying any sales tax on that.

Had any of this actually taken place, rest assured that come January, I would be reporting those sales to the IRS and the California Tax Board so that I made darn sure to pay 100% of my fair share of the tax revenue they so richly deserve. But, of course, as stated, this tale is speculative. Merely a “for-instance.”

Later that week I also hypothetically put new sales tax-free tires on the Suburban. They rode, in theory, quite nicely back down south.

Duty-free has a nice relaxing hum to it.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


Your new favorite T-shirt is at SmidgeTees

Your new favorite book is from SmidgeBooks

Your new favorite humor columnist is on Facebook Just a Smidge

No comments:

Post a Comment